March 8, 2019 An Homage to the Women that I know

I’ve been meaning to write up a blog post for a while now, but being a mom of a 2 ½ year old, working in the Emergency Department part-time, and starting this business have made this a challenging feat!!  However, I thought today … International Women’s Day would be a great day to start blogging.  I hope to post on a regular basis, probably once every couple of months to start.  As my child grows, and I have a bit more time, I will blog more often.

This is an homage to the women I know, the women I have met, and the women I heard in the news.  First, I’d like to pay homage to the women I know quite well!  To the woman I first met, I thank my mother for all that she has done and all that she will do.  I thank you for all the sacrifices that you have made so that I could be a Canadian woman.  You see, I’m a daughter of an immigrant mother who took the leap from her small town in Poland to see what Canada was all about and potentially provide a better life to her unborn children.  Poland at the time was under Communist rule and this meant a somewhat difficult life for my mother and her family.  This makes me think of all the women out there who left their families and their countries to provide a better life for their children, for their unborn children, for their own life.  I have worked with so many Immigrant women and the sacrifices they have made are something that I never will experience.  So, thank you to all the women who made a huge change in your life, left your families, the comforts of home, the protection of your community to bring a life of opportunity to first generation Canadians. 

When I think of immigrant women, this makes me think about the women refugees I have met, or I have heard about in the news.  I had the opportunity to work with Afghani and Syrian women during my public health nursing preceptorship a few years back.  The terror, the trauma they suffered were discussed, always in a soft and reticent way, making it seem that it couldn’t have been that bad.  Although many of the Afghani women had fled their war-torn countries 9-25 years ago, they still suffered.  Their sleep suffered, they experienced depression and sadness regularly.  But when they got together at their community group, sewing, talking, eating their homemade foods, it seemed as if nothing had affected them.  Their smiles infectious, their demeanor motivating and humbling.  I will never forget these women.  Thank you to all the women who survived such hardships and keep on moving forward in ways that inspire their communities.

When I think of the trauma and suffering of these refugee women, I think of the #MeToo movement and of all the women who have experienced sexualized violence.  1 in 4 women have, had or will experience sexualized trauma at some point in their life.  I was one of them.  The Indigenous community.  Athletes.  University students. People in the film industry. Children who served in the Catholic Church.  I am so grateful for all the women who have put voice to this.  Thank you to all the women who have gathered the courage to survive their assault, to relive the trauma over-and-over again with unexpected triggers in their life (in my opinion this is the hardest part of dealing with sexualized violence).  Thank you to all the women who help women who’ve experienced sexualized violence: the sexual assault service teams, the community support workers, the counsellors, the families, the friends, the list goes on and on.  And thank you to all the women who are trying to end violence period!

When I think of sexualized violence, I think of my own experience and I think how lucky I have been because of the support that I’ve had over the years.  I thank my family for dealing with all my anger and resentment I had growing up and still sometimes feel.  I thank my aunties and grandmother for lifting me up.  I thank all the men in my lives who demonstrated to me the goodness of men, that there are alternative good views of men.  I thank Oprah for giving me hope for a little girl who just wanted to find inspiration and motivation to get passed the trauma.  I thank all the support workers, counsellors who helped me see other ways.  I thank the mountains and the trees.  I thank Richard Wagamese for his writings.  For telling the story of the trees – that our grandparents live in the trees.  I first found peace in the forest and in walking through the mountains.  Richard Wagamese brought context to this feeling.  I always felt the presence of my grandmother in the trees, and now I know why!  She lives in them.  Thank you to everyone for supporting the women in your lives who’ve suffered some form of violent trauma.  Your support helps in so many ways.

When I think of Richard Wagamese, I think of all the men who support the women in this world.  I think of the Kiprop family in Africa.  William Kiprop supports his wife, Michelle Kiprop, through all her big ideas to bring health care to women and villagers in Kenya.  Check out her work … Michelle is one of the reasons that I have started my business.  Then I think of my own husband who is my biggest support system.  He allows me to be as I am, with all my faults and all my gifts, and aspirations.  And then I think of my son.  I think of all the work I have ahead of me to rear this little being into a person who treats all beings with respect, regardless of choices they make in their lives, regardless of race, gender, affluence.  I have a big job ahead of me, but I know with all the support of the people in my life, this will not be as difficult as it seems.

This is my hope as a person who identifies as a woman: I hope all people who identify as a woman are treated the same as their male counterparts.  And I hope all girls see themselves equal to the boys in their lives.  I was listening to today’s episode of The Current ( and there was some discussion to the consequences of women not participating in the science, technology, engineering and medical fields (STEM).  These consequences are that women will have little influence on the STEM environment that is growing exponentially fast and this will impact their health and life in many ways.  However, if we support the girls and women in our lives in the best way we can, this will change.  And the world will have more of a feminine touch that brings balance to all the services and ideas that are useful, meaningful and inclusive of all beings. 

P.S. I did post this morning rather than yesterday. I chose to celebrate myself the whole day skiing with a friend and spent the evening gathered within a women’s circle facilitated by Amber Gould (, and Andrea Sentesy ( Thank you to these women for lifting me up!!

Mary Saugstad